The King of Kong

DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 29min

DIRECTED BY: Seth Gordon

William the Konguerer: Mitchell

When is a video game not just a video game? For champion player and Florida spicy-sauce tycoon Billy Mitchell, the answer would seem to be never. In 1982, Billy aced the video-arcade perennial Donkey Kong with a score of 874,300. For Seattle high-school teacher Steve Wiebe, however, assurance didn’t come so easily. No stranger to second-best frustration, Steve discovered Kong when laid off from a job at Boeing in 2003. When he beat Billy’s record with a 1,000,000 score, it was war.


Just as it was imperative for Billy to reclaim his gamer’s crown, so Steve needed to prove himself in the eyes of the arcade world. And what a nutso world it shapes up to be in director Seth Gordon’s cracking documentary, peopled by fixated men whose sense of self is defined by a beeping screen. Yet at a certain point, the rivalry between Billy and Steve stops being vaguely ridiculous and becomes as complex and revealing in its own crazy way as any of life’s trials by fire.